In 2022, Gartner predicted that by 2025, 50% of CIOs will have performance metrics tied to sustainability. But focusing on the sustainability of internal processes is too narrow. Instead, businesses should think of enabling a host of sustainable outcomes using technology. It defined sustainable technology as a framework of digital solutions that can enable environmental, social and governance (ESG) outcomes for the enterprise and its customers. What technologies will drive global discussions? EcoTrade predicts 3 technological innovations that will shape sustainability agenda in 2023.
Automation is of the key technological innovations that will shape sustainability in 2023. It is an attractive way to reduce the cost of doing business and promises significant cost, quality and speed improvements. According to a report Gartner estimates that automation could result in a $15 trillion benefit to the global economy by 2030. It can reduce the need for a large workforce but it may also exacerbate skills mismatches
Better ESG reporting
As companies are responding to employee, consumer, and investor sentiments by being more responsible and transparent in how they operate. Automation can help them identify goals and metrics related to environment and sustainability, tweak processes to support ESG goals and gather and analyse data to aid ESG reporting.
UiPath in an article share an example of Helse Vest, a health authority based in Norway. They leveraged automation to lower the number of letters mailed to patients with confirmed appointments. Instead, software robots intercepted each letter, preventing letters from being printed and mailed. Helse Vest was able to minimize its environmental footprint by using less paper with an expected savings of more than $500,000 in postage alone.
Automation to reduce carbon footprint
UiPath suggests that companies can also reduce their carbon footprints by decreasing computing energy, streamlining supply chain operations and digitizing purchase orders and invoice processes.
Automation can help streamline a company’s operations, eliminating inefficiencies that can negatively impact the business and the environment. For instance, analytics solutions can help identify areas where an organization is producing excess waste, allowing the company to take action to reduce its waste output.
David Jensen, coordinator of the United Nations Environment Program’s (UNEP’s) Digital Transformation sub-programme said AI refers to systems or machines that perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, and can iteratively improve themselves over time, based on the information they collect. Jensen highlighted several areas where AI can play a role in tackling environmental challenges, from designing more energy-efficient buildings to monitoring deforestation to optimizing renewable energy deployment.
AI can revolutionize the approach to monitoring and mitigating methane emissions. One of the UNEP-led initiatives inside the WESR digital ecosystem is the International Methane Emissions Observatory (IMEO), which leverages AI to mitigate methane emissions. The platform operates as a global public database of empirically verified methane emissions. It leverages AI to strategically interconnect this data with action on science, transparency, and policy to inform data-driven decisions.
Logistics and supply chain
TCS, in an article, made a case that given the complexity of the operations involved in supply chains, enterprises must go beyond deploying EVs and using eco-friendly packaging material to ensure sustainability. Ai can help organisations gather real-time information and create responsive algorithms that enable enterprises to adjust to changing requirements. Simultaneously, enterprises can work with flexible vendors and put in place more aggressive inventory policies to ensure efficient utilization of labour and transport resources.
Advanced analytics is one of the major technological innovations that will shape sustainability in 2023. Delloite in its guide made a case that by collecting and analyzing data on a wide range of sustainability-related factors—including energy and resource use, greenhouse gas emissions, and supply chain performance—companies can generate the deep insights they need to guide their sustainability-related initiatives and improve their overall resource efficiency. Companies can now conduct real-time (or near real-time) sustainability analysis on vast quantities of data in three dimensions of time: past, present, and future.
Benefits of advanced analytics
Advanced analytics can help companies reduce resource use, making them less vulnerable to price and supply volatility. With advanced analytics, a company has the hard data to show prospective business partners and customers that its sustainability practices are more than just talk. A company can use advanced analytics to identify future risks in areas such as resource use, environmental impact, and labour practices—both inside its organization and across its extended supply chain. These insights can help manage and mitigate risks before they become headline news.